Auburn Food Bank Director Debbie Christian and her coterie of volunteers are doing their best to feed 1,600 people every week.
But in this bleak season, when many people in the Auburn community are struggling to feed the members of their own households every week, donations to the food bank are down sharply.
Not for lack of good will.
“Auburn has always been supportive of the food bank, and we’ve never complained about that,” Christian added. “The problem we’re facing is what everybody’s facing – the uptick in expenses. So giving is down, It makes sense to me. My own giving is down.”
A comparison of the first half of the food bank’s last two fiscal years , which begin every July, tells the story. Between July and December of 2021, the agency received $154,000 in monetary gifts from private individuals, but in 2022, those gifts are down by $32,000. At the same time, gifts from business are down $34,000.
Those are big holes in the budget for any non profit.
Christian understands why, and long experience has taught her never to doubt the good will and generosity of the Auburn community.
“People are trying, that’s very obvious to me,” Christian said last week. “The letters and checks that are coming in tell me people are trying. But they’re hurting. We’re seeing that all the way across everything we touch.”
The sharp drop in donations is not the only difficulty. Christian said grants have been have been harder to come by in 2022 than they were in 2021. Pre-Covid, she said, the food bank began allowing three visits per household each month nstead of two, but now there is less food given out per visit.
And of course, all of the Covid Capacity money that came out in the last two years has been shut down.
“We’re seeing less in produce now that the winter has come in. And because the food bank has a financial aid program, helping people with power and rent bills, we’re way down in money to help those needs.. We keep looking for money where we can keep to keep those going because that’s part of survival.
“…United Way is holding steady for us, that’s been positive for our giving. It’s at a time right now where it’s fairly critical at the food bank, it feels like. But we’re hopeful and we know that our friends in the Auburn community are faithful, and we know that they won’t let us dwindle and die out here,” Christian said.